EL DORADO HILLS (CBS13) – Nearly a year after the death of a special-needs student, the district attorney’s office is announcing charges against three employees of an El Dorado Hills private school.

Max Benson was a 13-year-old boy with autism who died in Nov. 2018. He was reportedly restrained by staff at the school after becoming violent. At some point while being restrained, he became unresponsive.

Deputies said a teacher performed CPR, but Benson died two days later at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Tuesday, the El Dorado County District Attorney announced they will be filing charges against three employees at the school. Executive Director and Site Administrator Cindy Keller, Principal Staranne Meyers and special education teacher Kimberly Wohlwend are facing a charge felony involuntary manslaughter each for Benson’s death.

Further, Guiding Hands School, Inc. is also facing a count of felony involuntary manslaughter.

The district attorney’s office said the charge is based on Nov. 28, 2018, prone restraint of Benson by Wohlend, which resulted in his death.

RELATED: Teen With Autism Dies Two Days After Being Restrained At El Dorado Hills School

Guiding Hands School, Inc. owned and operated the school. The California Department of Education later suspended the school’s certification and it was closed.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said the three women were booked and released from jail on Nov. 10.

All the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in court at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Family is hosting a candlelight memorial for Max on Sunday at 2 p.m. on the steps of the DA’s office.

Comments (6)
  1. Lisa_Ridino says:

    Students are getting more and more violent these days. I have seen it first hand. We’ve had 5 students assault teachers at my school. Teachers are just trying to protect themselves and the other students around. I know this situation turned out horribly, but we don’t know the whole story. I believe these teachers were just trying to do their job. So sad the outcome, but until I know the facts….

    1. Michael Stocks says:

      Are you sick in the head or something? That boy will never get a chance to live on this earth again.

      1. dylan ritchie says:

        nope we are not they were protecting there selfs

  2. Raven Smith says:

    I would be interested in knowing how the student was restrained and why. It seems to me that teachers are tasked with teaching and maintaining control over students but aren’t supported in anyway when they are trying to do their job. Was the student restrained because he was a danger to himself or other students or even the teacher involved? If so, what else were the educators involved supposed to do just let the child harm himself, other students or the teacher? I can see wanting reparation for the medical and funeral expenses but asking for more than that is harming the school system. No amount of money will bring this little boy back and we’re so short on teachers in this country–especially special educations teachers that to remove people from the school system because a teacher was trying to protect themselves, other students or the boy in question makes people more and more reluctant to choose jobs in the field of education.

  3. Larry says:

    The comments here make it so obvious that there is no awareness about Autism here.

    The teacher was wrong to restrain the child in the first place. That restraint is sheer torture for an Autistic child. She could have removed the child from the classroom. She could have requested assistance and called his family to come retrieve him.

    You cannot comprehend the Autistic child unless you live with it. I know that because I do.

    The teacher has killed a child. I hope she goes away for a long time.

    My condolences to the family. They have lived the heartbreak of Autism, Loved through the disappointments and hope for their child and now he has been killed. What a tragedy for that family.

  4. @RavenSmith @Lisa_Ridino Max’s crime was spitting at another student.
    Does that sound like something that is appropriately punished with a death sentence? I know the facts because my son went to school with Max. My son too, was restrained by the same people, in the same way (I witnessed this abuse first hand). Max’s teacher SAT on him for 2 hours, while he urinated and vomited. Never checking his vitals, or asking for assistance. Please don’t put voice to such ignorance. Know the facts before you speak. Thank you Larry, for being the only reasonable voice in these comments. #ShineOnMax

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